Baking, Fitting In, And Friendship: Kim-Joy Pens First Graphic Novel ‘Turtle Bread’

by Brendan M. Allen

Kim-Joy, bestselling cookbook author and finalist on the Great British Bake Off 2018, is writing her first graphic novel titled Turtle Bread: A Graphic Novel About Baking, Fitting In, and the Power of Friendship. The book is inspired by Kim-Joy’s passion for baking and events from her life: working in the mental health field, her own mental health struggles, reading comics, and her desire to help others. 

Kim-Joy’s positive, empathetic, and vibrant personality comes through on every page and is enhanced by the inspiring illustrations of Indonesian artist Alti Firmansyah, who utilizes a black-and-white manga-influenced art style in her first full-length book. Together, with letterer Joamette Gil, designer Cindy Leong, and editors Felix Horne and Allison O’Toole, they create a powerful story that explores mental health, that feeling of not fitting in, community and, of course, baking. 

Turtle Bread will be released from Amazon’s Comixology Originals exclusive digital content line on May 2, 2023, in time for Mental Health Awareness Month and arrives in print from Dark Horse Books this Fall.

“Turtle Bread is a book about self-awareness,” says Kim-Joy. “It’s about that feeling of loneliness, of not fitting in or feeling good enough, of self-criticism, and the path towards self-acceptance. This is explored through baking, and in particular, the symbolism of the turtle–coming out of its shell and moving forward; however slowly that may be. Hence: Turtle Bread! (And yes, there’s actual turtle themed bread! Plus loads of other recipes). It’s NOT a magical story about how baking and friendship fix everything, but a story about the small steps forward (and sometimes sideways and backwards) gradually adding up.

“I’m in absolute awe of Alti’s artwork in the book–it is so expressive and emotive; you can really feel a connection to the characters on each page. As soon as I was introduced, I instantly loved Alti and her work.”

A young woman named Yan who has a passion for baking stumbles upon a local Baking Club on her way home from another unsuccessful job interview. Her social anxiety tries to keep her away but the bakers encourage her to come out of her shell, especially the caring and supportive Bea. As the club bakes together, Yan discovers that her new friends may need her too, more than she realizes…

Beatrice, Yan, Amit, Zara, and Geraint make for a motley cast, each with their own individual issues and life challenges they are trying to cope with–from death, to finding romantic partners, to cancer, to divorce, to children, to keeping a job. But when Bea abruptly leaves Baking Club without a trace, they must hold it together and head out in search of answers and closure.

“Turtle Bread is a story about the strength of vulnerability; how showing a little of our softness from beneath a tough exterior shell can break down barriers between us that serve to reinforce the loneliness in the world,” continuess Kim-Joy. “Being cognizant of who we are and how we affect others is a gift. I want people to read Turtle Bread and feel less alone, comforted, and inspired to drop their armor, come together and bring meaning to their lives; in the same way separate ingredients come together when baked to form something fresh and new.”

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